Hilton Head Island family reunion a great reminder of lives well lived

features@beaufortgazette.comAugust 20, 2012 

The Fulton family reunion invitation, featuring Harbour Town Lighthouse.


Thanks to Roland Fulton of Hilton Head Island for sharing the story of this summer's big family reunion on the island.

The Fultons have gathered in smaller groups for many years, but this was the first time 43 family members in three generations came together for a week on the island, renting three homes and a condominium July 21 to 28. Family members traveled from Utah, Vermont, Massachusetts, Ohio and the Washington, D.C., area.

Roland and Muriel Fulton, who have lived in Long Cove for 18 years, will be celebrating their 60th anniversary in a couple of years and hope that might give everyone a good excuse to come back.

This year's gathering was spiced by the recent 50th anniversary of Roland's brother George and his wife, Carol, of Haymarket, Va. From the next generation, Devin and Nicole Fulton were married the day before the reunion started and treated it as their honeymoon.

Roland and Muriel's daughter, Michelle Jones of the Columbia area, put the whole thing together.

"They had a spreadsheet as big as my kitchen table with all the names and activities for the week," Roland said.

Bicycling, a boat ride, golf and nightly meals were logged in for the families of four Fulton siblings born to a father who got an electrical engineering degree from the University of Arizona in 1921. Along with siblings Roland, George, Alan and Mary Ellen Evans came their four spouses, 12 of their children with eight spouses, and 15 grandchildren. They say Generation Two was the one with the big parties on the back porch.

One thing that helped bring them to the island was the "comic strip" invitation done by Roland's brother, George Fulton.

George started out at the University of Arizona as an art major. After a semester, he figured he wouldn't make any money in it. But his career in advertising kept him on a creative track, and he never dropped his comic strip sketching.

Thanks to Roland, George got a chance to spend some time with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. Roland did some duck hunting with Schultz along with one of his clients in the apparel business.

"Charles Schulz was the nicest guy," George said. "I showed him a couple of my strips and he gave me a good critique, telling me it had too many lines or was too busy, things like that. He did discuss that not many people make a lot of money at it."

He said Schulz inspired him, and he kept Schulz' marked-up critiques of his work. They have been accepted into a Schulz museum in California.

He almost had another brush with fame. As advertising manager for Del Webb, the creator of Sun City Hilton Head housing developments, George pitched an idea to have Norman Rockwell do drawings of the Sun City lifestyle for a national campaign. The idea was accepted, and when he called Rockwell he was surprised to learn how approachable he was. Rockwell answered his own phone. He liked the idea and wanted to do it, but Saturday Evening Post wanted him to do a series on heads of state around the world and the Del Webb idea got cut.

In retirement, George does sketches for his community and family. He does get-well cards and anniversary cards, things like that. He did one for Muriel's hole-in-one on the 17th hole at Long Cove Club on Nov. 3, 1996, and another for Roland's 81st birthday.

He does the cover and inside art for the annual cookbook produced by the Long Cove Garden Club and Dirty Diggers Garden Club.

George said he would be happy if his hobby helped bring the family together on Hilton Head.

"What's nice about that reunion, or any reunion for that matter, is that we had time to sit down and talk with the children and the older ones," he said. "We got to know each other better."

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